Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Vegetarian Diet & Kids January 26, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,pantry building — ourprairiehome @ 5:10 am
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It is always interesting to me how often people assume that a vegetarian or vegan diet is not healthy for kids. Where did we get the idea that proteins from meat are the only healthy ones? Today, I took the kids to the health food store in the city. Our daughter was absolutely bouncing up and down over my buying some tofu. Yep! I said she was excited about tofu. You see, I have learned to cook it in a way that the kids really enjoy. One super easy recipe is to dice it into bite size pieces after it has been drained. Coat in flour, then egg or egg supplement, then coat in seasoned bread crumbs. Baked for a few minutes at 350*F until lightly golden and you have a fun nugget that can be dipped in any sauce you have on hand. She says she likes them better than chicken nuggets.

A favorite food of our son’s is to make vegetable fritters. I make a simple batter similar to pancakes. Into this, I add a variety of finely chopped vegetables. The ratio of vegetables to batter is pretty even mixture of each. Sometimes, I add so much vegetables that it looks like 2 parts vegetables and 1 part batter. I fry on a skillet the fritters, just as you would pancakes. These are always a hit with the kids. To add protein, I simply add some cooked quinoa to the fritters in place of some of the vegetables. Quinoa (pronounced as “Keen-wah”) is a grain that is cooked as you would rice and is a complete protein.

The bulk bins are my favorite resource at the health food stores. I am able to buy many of our food basics at a fraction of the cost. Today, I bought Sea Salt, Quinoa, and Pearl Barley to add to my pantry. I already have gallon jars filled with an assortment of various dried beans, lentils, split peas, and rice. There is also a good supply of all types of vegetables and some fruits. I love how low cost I am able to build up that pantry. The key is to stick with the bulk bins only.

We bought a case of almond milk while at the store. We love this stuff! Of all the alternative milks, this one has the most mild flavor. We use it for everything, just as we would cow’s milk. The advantage is that it is much easier on our stomachs.

There is so many meatless recipes that are healthy for the entire family. I am surprised often to see the surprise that people get in their expressions when I explain that any recipe that does not contain meat, egg, or dairy products are considered to be vegan. For vegetarians who do eat dairy and eggs, the number of recipes common to meat-eaters is greatly increased. To make those recipes “vegan” you only have to substitute the vegan alternatives for the dairy and eggs.

At the grocery store, our daughter asked if we could get Boca Burgers. These are a vegan burger made from soy. We all love them. The kids and I actually prefer them to the meat burgers. That is one of the advantages that we have right now. Even though our bodies feel sick if we eat too much meat or dairy milk, we do have the option of eating them in moderation. This is an advantage in that we are choosing to eat vegetarian/vegan because we love the recipes and how we feel after eating this way. If the kids really want a beef burger or some salmon, it is no big deal. We don’t believe in denying them the choice. So, we now have Boca burgers in the freezer. Our daughter is thrilled!

I can’t wait to see how the diet change affects my weight. I have extra weight to lose and last time I was eating vegetarian exclusively, I lost quite a bit of weight. I was in the best health and weight that I have been in for a long time.

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Chicken and Dumplings December 15, 2012

Filed under: cooking,old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 7:48 pm
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This recipe is a great old standby in our home. We substitute turkey for the chicken after Thanksgiving. It is a great way to use up the leftover chicken from other meals. Simply remove the skin and debone the meat from the fried or roasted chicken and add it to the stew. In our family, we add potatoes or sliced carrots to the stew to make it a bit heartier. One thing to note is that the dumplings are more like a noodle than the balls of dough that many recipes use. Some regions refer to this type of recipe as having “slippery noodles” instead of dumplings.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 large whole chicken
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery sliced
salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a stock pot and cover with water. Boil gently until meat is tender. Remove chicken and take meat from the bones. Return the meat to the stockpot.

Dumplings:

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg
buttermilk

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Put egg into a 1/2 cup measuring cup and finish filling the cup with buttermilk. Stir into flour mixture. Add a bit more buttermilk if needed to make a somewhat stiff dough.

To the gently boiling stew, add pinched off pieces of the dumpling dough. Gently boil for about 20 minutes or until dumplings are well cooked.

Canning Idea – I love to can up the de-boned chicken in broth with onions and carrots. Then, to make the chicken and dumplings, I only have to add the dumplings to the stew. It makes a fast and easy meal.